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Through Your Eyes : Raising a Child With Self-Esteem

I often say that I wish for every kid (and adults too) to find that one thing that they love themselves while they are doing it. This is how self-esteem is built. That they find a community of people who will join in the mutual appreciation of these efforts and thus build their esteem further. That is some of the good stuff that life has the potential to hand you.

The converse of this scenario is a child who feels worthless and bored. Who can not see themselves in what they do or their surroundings or the faces of their family. And this leads to darker places and choices.Fiona and the azalea on shalavee.com

A mother of another three-year-old in our story group expressed her concern that our rural sleepy town didn’t posses enough interesting things for the teens to do. And she felt this boredom was what led to their use of drugs, alcohol, etc. I offered that these were just choices these kids make to squelch a deeper pain. One wrought from the sense of unworthiness from their family situations. I said even rich kids do heroine. She said her husband is a cop, she knows that.

From a person who experimented with illegal substances and took unhealthy risks, had I had any activities at all in my life where I felt valued, where my identity was more than a grade or a boyfriend, other choices would have shown themselves. But I was left to my own devices, to fend and survive and I chose the wrong things to kill my pain with. The wrong people’s opinions to value. Because I didn’t value me. I was invisible to me.Recital night on Shalavee.com

My son found the piano quite early in his life. And he’s gone from an anxiety riddled seven year-old to a confident piano playing 11 year-old. He has no stage fright whatsoever which blows my mind. What he sees in our eyes and the eyes of the world watching him is admiration and support. And he’s confident that he can fulfill their expectations if not surpass them. Wow!

You can do it. You can parent, you can run the marathon, you can start a business, art every day, lose the weight, make your amends, write a book, learn a language, ice skate, or paint. All it takes is the belief that it is what you want and you deserve to show yourself you can do it. You’re worthy of a dream that fulfills you and you deserve the unyielding support that gets you there. That is what I’m giving my kids and I discovered I needed to give this to myself too.

If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Let Them Be Picky Eaters

There’s a boy at my son’s school. He represents every young man who’s grown up without. Without the constants of unconditional love. Without food enough to not be hungry. He has regular outbursts at school and threatens teachers and other students. He just wants to know that he matters.

He’s enrolled in an after-school program and, although this boy was suspended for a day or two, my husband saw him there as he was setting up lights for the talent show our son was to be in. He noticed the kid because again he threatened a teacher. They were serving spaghetti dinner to the after school participants as some kids won’t have a meal when they get home. I didn’t know about the program.Pickky eaters at dinner at Steve's on Shalavee.com

Over dinner, my husband was describing the wall of teachers that formed after the kid threatened one of them. And then he mentioned the spaghetti dinner. And I looked up and it hit me. And tears formed in my eyes. As they are now. Hungry isn’t ever a comfortable place to be. Basic needs being unmet would make you angry too. Every town has hungry people you just don’t see.

So when someone asked me recently if my kids were picky eaters, I said yes. And then I said that was OK by me. That they are persnickety and turn their noses up at their homemade waffle breakfast is fine with me to a degree. Because that means that they have no idea what it’s like to go without, to be hungry and frightened about finding their next meal. I’m just fine with my kids being picky.

If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Are You a Mourning Cook Too?

There was once a time when I cooked for the joy of it. I dared to try different techniques, different regional tastes, or daring feats of culinary craziness. I deboned a turkey for Thanksgiving just to say I did it. I make a mean tiramisu when I take the time to. That went with my Italian Christmas feast I made one year with homemade pasta and reinforcement salad. And now I am in mourning for the cook I used to be.

I soooooo miss those days when the pursuit of culinary loveliness was just for self-gratification. And for the gratification of the ones I love of course. What wine pairs with my culinary feat du jour and who am I inviting over to impress? Do we have enough wine? Who cares the time.

Those days are gone Daddy gone. I became a Mom and Eamon and Fiona are happy to be eating some boxed mac and cheese and a microwaved hot dog. Don’t forget the ketchup. And the ice cream.Thanksgiving dinner 2015 on Shalavee.com

When I indulged these thoughts, I felt suddenly as if I were mourning this memory. I love cooking to cook. And I resent cooking plebeian meals for temperamental palettes. But my wise and dear husband pointed out, after I shared my depressing revelation of cooking sentence, that he thinks eventually those same children will develop their taste buds and sense of adventure and they’ll be cooking with me and eventually for me.

I dearly hope his prediction is correct. I won’t hold my breath. But my love of cooking came from my parents, yes, although I also was an adventurous eater. I find it very hard to put so many parts of my soul on hold for the sake of the children. And yet, my complaints are rare because I do understand that this is one of many sacrifices one makes for your children. Like the reading of a book or peeing in private. And that to wish the hurrying through of this phase is to wish to hurry their childhood. And I’m not about to do that.Saturday morning breakfast in the living room that we dine in on Shalavee.com

Sandra Lee had a pretty keen idea of mixing the downtown and the uptown cooking and I commend her for her efforts to create fancier meals with less prep and throw in a decorative element to make the dining experience an event. Children can learn to revere the meal times and eventually the food that is there on their plates. And it’s time I revisit the review I did of French Kids Eat Everything by Karen La Billon. It was really good.

So here’s me dreaming of truffles and oysters and sabayon. And planning a dinner party sometime soon so that I can get some culinary yaya’s out.

If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Minestrone Soup

When I was about to have Fiona two years ago, I did something I considered quite daring: I asked for help for my meal making in that last month. I was as huge as a heifer, my right leg perpetually swollen, everyone telling me to have a seat, but I still needed my family fed. Someone told me about Mealbaby and this is the post I wrote about this wonderful site created to help people in need when babies or sicknesses or a death in the family disrupts their life routine.

shalagh and newborn  Fiona on Shalavee.com

Although it requires you to ask for help which is very hard for some of us, suddenly you have people who you never realized cared so much signing up and showing up. People who aren’t caterers bringing you wonderful balanced meals and you feel oh so grateful.

One of these meals was this minestrone soup. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a high opinion of this soup. But this version is almost like a tomato vegetable stew with seashell pasta. Lovely fresh basil notes, a little wine, and Eamon was immediately a huge fan. So I was too.

Another minestrone soup makings on Shalavee.com

Jamie’s Minestrone Soup¬† (Jamie’s Minestrone Recipe – Allrecipes.com via Shalavee.com)

Ingredients

Original recipe makes 8 servings
3 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 onions, chopped

2 cups chopped celery

5 carrots, sliced

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

4 cups tomato sauce

1/2 cup red wine 

1 cup canned light kidney beans, drained (but you could use a white bean like a cannelini bean too)

1 (15 ounce) can green beans (but I always use frozen or fresh)

2 cups baby spinach, rinsed

3 zucchinis, quartered and sliced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (dried is fine if you have the fresh basil)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (or a good dollop of the basil paste in a tube from the produce section)

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup small seashell pasta (but we prefer to cook the box and then add what we want to the bowl)

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese for topping

1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large stock pot, over medium-low heat, heat olive oil and saute garlic for 2 to 3 minutes. Add onion and saute for 4 to 5 minutes. Add celery and carrots, saute for 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add chicken broth, water and tomato sauce, bring to boil, stirring frequently. If desired add red wine at this point. Reduce heat to low and add kidney beans, green beans, spinach leaves, zucchini, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, the longer the better.
  3. Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until tender. Drain water and set aside.
  4. Once pasta is cooked and soup is heated through place 2 tablespoons cooked pasta into individual serving bowls. Ladle soup on top of pasta and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top and serve.

Seriously, this soup and chili are the only two opportunities I have to urge large quantities of vegetables plus the dreaded “bean” down my kids throat. And if you made it with veggie stock, it would be vegetarian so keep it in mind for the fall I suppose. I promise the seldom recipes I do share will be the best I’ve got.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

May Gardens Grow

Although I have given up on my garden to a great extent ( see this post for the back story for my grief-talk), Mark soldiers on with his. In fact this year, he constructed a raised bed to improve and expand his prior garden design. One year we decided to order our tomato plants from Burpee and we’ve done so ever since. We began this practice the year after I started everything from seed and then most of our majestic six-foot plants were tragically struck down by the Downy White Mildew Blight. Heirlooms go first. Hybrids don’t bat an eye.

Pregrown planties from Burpee on Shalavee.com

This incident is one of my reasons for my heartbreak and grief in the garden. But not Mark. He get’s such enjoyment from the planning and the production, giving away more than half our yield to friends, neighbors, and in state relatives, that he couldn’t stop even if he wanted to. Veggie Junkies have been created. He needs to feed their dependency.

Mark's garden April 12 2015 on Shalavee.com

The new bed was planted perpendicular to the old bed and so there was a bit of the old bed left. My son Eamon really mostly hates anything that gets his hands dirty or is remotely related to “yard work”. So having him help has been really disappointing at best. But this year I said he needed to plant a wildflower garden in the old bed and he said “yes”. The trick is to figure out everyone’s GAS. I said we would draw a map. He was excited.

Eamon and his garden mapping on Shalavee.com

I had a fist full of seed packages that had waited to be thought of. Some were old wildflower mixes. While I had two coreopsis, some zinnias, Echinacea, and a random bag of blossoms from a dried up celosia plants from my Mother-in-laws. I have no idea if any of them will germinate. But I told Eamon to divide the garden into quadrants and the map them out. So this is what he made.

Eamon's garden map on Shalavee.com

We are hoping that Fiona is bitten by the gardening bug. So far though, Mark had to convince her that worms don’t bite. And every time she sees a bee she says “Ow”. There’s still hope for his garden help and my kitchen assistant though. Some teeny tiny garden gloves and an apron might need to be added to the dress-up chest soon.

tomatoes and green peppers at the end of April on Shalavee.com

The Snap peas and zucchini (courgettes), as well as the swiss chard and garlic have all been reported doing well. There seems to be some concern over the cucumbers however. I’ll keep you posted. Happy gardening!

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

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